Is The Tea You're Drinking Ethical and what makes an Ethical Tea Brand
Author: Sandy Abram Date Posted:15 November 2017
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Having a cup of tea is something many of us do every day and often without thinking too much about it. However, when it comes to ethical teas and an ethical tea brand, is being certified organic and fairtrade enough? Having a cup of tea is something many of us do every day and often without thinking too much about it. However, when it comes to ethical teas and an ethical tea brand, is being certified organic and fairtrade enough?
Having a cup of tea is something a lot of us do every day and often without thinking too much about it. However, for the tea growers and tea pickers, our health and our environment there is a lot more than meets the tea bag eye.
What Makes a Tea Ethical?
When it comes to food and products in general, ethics is a pretty complex topic covering many areas. Our environment, animals, people and politics, there are lots of things to consider and when it comes to tea, this is no different.
At Wholesome Hub though, we do a lot of research into the brands we support so you can be sure that both Hampstead Tea and Love Tea have been given our ethical (and yummy) tick of approval as have all our other brands.
Organic Tea - The Benefits to Your Health, Farmers and our Environment
Whilst being an organic tea company doesn’t automatically make you an ethical tea brand, it does go a long way in terms of the impact the tea company has on our environment. The use and often overuse of pesticides and GM technologies (as commercial pressures increase) can seriously damage our biodiversity, the fertility and health of our soils, waterways and eco-system as a whole. Remember, everything is interconnected.
The use of pesticides can also be extremely harmful to the tea growers and farmers themselves. These farmers are in direct contact with harmful chemicals often experiencing serious health concerns and illnesses as they’re forced to use faulty and broken equipment in countries where OH & S standards don’t really exist.
Finally, who likes the idea of drinking chemicals with their tea? Many studies have shown the presence of pesticide residues on tea and as tea leaves aren’t washed, what they spray on the tea, can end up in your tea cup. Greenpeace did a great study on this a few years back called Trouble Brewing.
Fairtrade and Fair Working Conditions for Tea Farmers & Pickers
Put simply, fairtrade is all about treating farmers and producers in developing countries just like we would want to be treated ourselves.
Including factors such as a fair wage, a fair price for their products and safe working conditions, fairtrade certification and standards is about giving some of the poorest workers in the world dignity and choice. Through these fair working conditions, it can help educate, inspire and improve the living standards for workers, their families and communities with roads, schools and medical facilities all being funded through community projects.
Tea Brands and Multinational Companies
Personally, it's no secret that I’m not a big fan of multinational companies! From my experience, they are largely motivated by money, they put profits before people and the health of our environment and will do anything to sell a few more boxes - including cute little ads and marketing filled with holes. And yes, whilst many large multinational companies may be doing some great things in regards to sustainability and our environment, I do question whether these activities outweigh the negative impact of their other business practices.
Is Pukka Tea an Ethical Tea Brand?
With the recent sale of Pukka Herbs and Tea (who is / was an organic and fairtrade tea company) to corporate giant Unilever, Pukka is no longer the warm and fluffy company it once was.
Unilever is a huge company making everything from processed foods to laundry detergent and with their annual revenue at US $56 billion dollars, the sales from Pukka tea will now be finding its way into the coffers of one of the world’s largest food processing and cosmetic companies, their MD and their board.
In regards to ethics and companies, unfortunately Unilever do not have the greatest track record when it comes to ethical issues. The company is a big supporter of GM technologies, they still test on animals, they have subsidiaries in oppressive regimes and they have the worst rating for tax avoidance strategies to name a few. So, to answer the question, is Pukka Tea an Ethical Tea brand, my answer would have to be sadly, “not anymore”!
There is a great UK non profit organisation called Ethical Consumer which is my regular go to guide for all things ethical. Here you can read their Ethical Tea Product Guides, more about Pukka Tea, Unilever, what it means to be ethical and how they rank on the ethical guide score.
What’s your favourite tea brand? And would you switch brands for ethical issues?